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Authors: Otvos, B., Alban, T. J., Grabowski, M. M., Bayik, D., Mulkearns-Hubert, E. E., Radivoyevitch, T., Rabljenovic, a., Johnson, S., Androjna, C., Mohammadi, A. M., Barnett, G., Ahluwalia, M. S., Vogelbaum, M. A., Fecci, P. E., Lathia, J. D.
Recent advances in cancer immunotherapy have created a greater appreciation of potential anti-tumoral impacts by the immune system; however, individual patient responses have been variable. While immunotherapy is often given after standard-of-care treatment, the effects of initial interventions on the ability of the immune system to mount a response are not well understood and this may contribute to the variable response. For glioblastoma (GBM), initial disease management includes surgical resection, perioperative high-dose steroid therapy, chemotherapy, and radiation treatment. While new discoveries regarding the impact of chemotherapy and radiation on immune response have been made and translated to clinical trial design, the impact of surgical resection and steroids on the anti-tumor immune response has yet to be determined. Further, it is now accepted that steroid usage needs to be closely evaluated in the context of GBM and immunotherapy trials. To better model the clinical scenario in GBM, we developed a mouse model that integrates tumor resection and steroid treatment to understand how these therapies affect local and systemic immune responses. Using this model, we observed a systemic reduction in lymphocytes associated with surgical resection and identified a correlation between increased tumor volume and decreased circulating lymphocytes, a relationship that was obviated by dexamethasone treatment. Furthermore, we investigated the possibility of there being similar relationships in a cohort of patients with GBM and found that prior to steroid treatment, circulating lymphocytes inversely correlated with tumor volume. Lastly, correlating GBM patient data and outcomes demonstrated that peripherally circulating lymphocyte content varies with progression-free and overall survival, independent of tumor volume, steroid use, or tumor molecular profiles. These results highlight the systemic immunosuppressive effects that initial therapies can have on patients. Such effects should be considered when designing current and future immunotherapy clinical trials and underscore the importance of circulating lymphocytes as a possible correlate of GBM disease progression.
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